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Live Updates on George Floyd Protests: Latest News and Video

2020-06-03 11:41:34
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Peaceful protesters defied curfews, but minimal mayhem was reported overnight.

For an eighth day and night, tens of thousands of people staged peaceful protests and impassioned marches across the United States, while the widespread destruction and looting that had followed demonstrations in recent days was largely absent.

President Trump called on states to bring in the military to restore order and combat “lowlifes and losers,” as an infantry battalion from Fort Bragg was dispatched to the nation’s capital as part of a broader show of force. But governors resisted the president’s entreaties, instead bolstering the police presence, changing tactics and imposing curfews to prevent people from using the protests as cover to wreak mayhem.

While demonstrators in many cities defied curfews, they did so peacefully.

They sang “We Shall Overcome” at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. Outside Wrigley Field in Chicago, crowds chanted “Hands up” as they raised their arms to the sky. In Los Angeles, hundreds gathered outside the home of Mayor Eric Garcetti, who earlier in the day had joined the crowds and taken a knee as he listened to pleas. On a bridge in Portland, Ore., hundreds lay face down, hands behind their backs, for a “die in” intended to emulate the death of George Floyd.

Mr. Floyd, a 46-year-old black security guard, died after his neck was pinned under a white police officer’s knee for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis last week. The officer has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. The killing, captured on video, was the spark for the outpouring of anger and anguish expressed in demonstrations in more than 140 cities for over a week.

As the sustained protests have made clear, the fuse has been burning for a long time, and despair has mounted with each case of a black person dying at the hands of the police.

A week after Mr. Floyd’s death, Minnesota said it had started a human rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department, citing evidence of systematic discrimination against people of color, particularly African-Americans.

The Floyd family gathered in Houston on Tuesday for a memorial and were joined by about 60,000 people, according to city officials.

Speakers offered emotional testimonials to a man they recalled as a “gentle giant.” A video of Mr. Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter, Gianna, taking in the outpouring of support was shared widely around the country.

The militarization of the response to the protest has stirred deep concerns and drawn widespread criticism, including from retired Adm. Mike Mullen, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said that “our fellow citizens are not the enemy, and must never become so.”

“I am deeply worried that as they execute their orders, the members of our military will be co-opted for political purposes,” he wrote in an opinion piece in The Atlantic published on Tuesday, adding that America’s cities and towns “are not ‘battle spaces’ to be dominated, and must never become so.”

The federal law enforcement response is being run by Attorney General William P. Barr. It was also Mr. Barr who ordered federal officers to clear peaceful protesters out of Washington’s Lafayette Park on Monday so that Mr. Trump could walk to a historic church and have his picture taken there, according to a Justice Department official.

In all, about 1,600 troops were being moved into the Washington area, according to the Pentagon, which described the troop movements as “a prudent planning measure.”

The Times has reporters on the ground. Here’s what they are seeing.

They tried to keep the gathering as secret as possible. No announcements, no social media. Don’t talk to strangers, don’t talk to the press — police spies could be anywhere.

“I guarantee you there are agents in your midst,” said Melina Abdullah, a professor at California State University, Los Angeles, and a Black Lives Matter leader.

About 200 protesters were called to a small park in Koreatown on Tuesday afternoon by the leaders of Black Lives Matter L.A. The plan: Walk the 15 minutes to Getty House, the official residence of Mayor Eric Garcetti, and then fire up social media.

“When you get there, livestream away,” Ms. Abdullah said.

The demonstration outside the gates of the mayor’s mansion quickly swelled to hundreds as word spread, and protesters waving placards streamed down some of the city’s fanciest residential streets, past mansions and manicured lawns.

The location was chosen to highlight the group’s demand that the mayor reduce the police budget. The mayor himself was at City Hall, preparing to give his daily news conference.

As the 6 p.m. curfew approached, some protesters started leaving, but many stayed behind, vowing to hold the streets — “Our streets!” they chanted.

A crowd of more than 1,000 people marched to the city’s emergency operations center, demanding to speak with Mayor Jenny Durkan. After some of the group’s leaders were invited inside, Ms. Durkan stood on the building’s steps and addressed protesters for the first time since demonstrations erupted last week.

The mayor vowed to work with protesters to reform the Police Department, which is under a federal consent decree. When pressed for a timeline, she responded, “What are you doing tomorrow?”

They agreed to meet at 3 p.m.

The protest leaders asked people to submit ideas for change to an email account they had established, yelling out the address letter by letter through a loudspeaker.

Ms. Durkan, gripping a blue medical mask in her hand, stopped short of agreeing that police officers would not use tear gas on Tuesday evening as they had the previous night. “I am not going to stand up and make a promise I am not going to keep,” she said.

After she left, protesters began marching through downtown, stopping at one point to take a knee. The group split at an intersection, with marchers shouting above the noise of chanting and helicopters, debating whether to join another group of demonstrators near where the police had used tear gas on Monday.

Police officers used pepper spray in Puerto Rico on Tuesday as more than 200 protesters broke a 7 p.m. curfew. The protest, organized by Colectiva Feminista, demanded a stop to racism and police brutality on the island.

“Where are the anti-racist people? We are here,” hundreds chanted on the cobblestone streets. “And we are not afraid.”

Protesters blamed local officials for black lives lost.

“Don’t tell us you don’t see racism here,” said Gloriann Sacha Antonetty, 39. “Because we don’t only see it. We feel it in our skin.”

A group of protesters marched across the Manhattan Bridge, only to be denied entry to Manhattan by the New York Police Department.

The crowd of a few hundred people, many of whom had demonstrated together near Barclays Center in Brooklyn, was allowed onto the bridge by the police but found itself blocked upon reaching the other side.

Chants of “Let us through!” echoed throughout the crowd, and after some people gave up and began walking back to Brooklyn, a chant of “Don’t split up” brought some back into the fold.

At one point the police also blocked the entrance on the Brooklyn side of the bridge, effectively trapping the crowd.

Over all there appeared to be fewer violent confrontations between officers and protesters than in preceding days, and fewer acts of looting than in the two previous nights.

“Very calm situation,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Twitter after 11 p.m. “So far, the curfew is certainly helping, based on everything I’ve seen in Brooklyn and Manhattan over the last three hours.”

Mr. de Blasio and had been criticized earlier in the day by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and others for how he and the police department had handled what turned into a rash of looting across Midtown Manhattan on Monday before the 11 o’clock curfew.

On Tuesday, in the hours after the curfew took effect, the group on the bridge and several other crowds of hundreds of people continued to walk peacefully through Brooklyn and Manhattan, chanting protest slogans and urging change.

“As long as it takes, I’m going to do it,” Sam Fitzgerald, 35, of Brooklyn, said of protesting. “It’s a revolution, baby.”

The issues at the heart of the past week’s protests were to the fore in several electoral contests as voters went to the polls in extraordinary circumstances on Tuesday, the biggest day of voting since the coronavirus and the unrest disrupted public life.

The day’s highest-profile race produced a surprising result when Representative Steve King — the Iowa Republican who was ostracized by his party after questioning why white nationalism was offensive — lost his primary to Randy Feenstra, a state senator who had the tacit support of much of the state’s G.O.P. establishment.

In Ferguson, Mo. — the city that was roiled by protests and civil unrest in 2014 after the police fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager — voters on Tuesday elected the city’s first African-American and first woman as mayor.

And the effects of current events were also evident in Philadelphia, where voters went to the polls in a city shaken by confrontations between the police and protesters. Activists were also concerned about the presence of police officers and National Guard members near polling places.

Seventy percent of the city’s polling places were closed, and in the downtown area, vehicle traffic was banned and public transit was shut down because of the unrest.

Suzanne Almeida, the interim executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania, cited the city convention center as having a significant presence of National Guard troops — “which is obviously a deterrent to voters.”

The University of California, Los Angeles says it will not allow a campus stadium to serve as a “field jail” in the future, after faculty members raised concerns about its use to process people arrested over curfew violations this week.

It was not immediately clear how many people were detained at the stadium, which is named after Jackie Robinson. But about 2,500 people were taken into custody in Los Angeles from Friday to Tuesday morning, according to the authorities. Scores more were arrested on Tuesday evening.

A group of 16 faculty members raised concerns about the use of the stadium in a letter made public on Tuesday by Ananya Roy, a professor of urban planning at the university.

“Testimony from arrested protesters is chilling,” they wrote. “U.C.L.A. students were arrested for engaging in the constitutionally protected right to peacefully protest against racial injustice, which is pervasive in American policing. They were detained and processed at a stadium on their own campus named after Jackie Robinson, an icon of the long and unfinished struggle for black freedom.”

The letter says that social distancing protocols put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic were violated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department, with officers not wearing masks or following other guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The cruel irony that this took place at a location used as a Covid-19 testing site is not lost on those arrested or on us,” they wrote.

The university issued a statement on Twitter saying that it was troubled by the accounts of how the stadium was being used.

“This was done without UCLA’s knowledge or permission,” it wrote. “As lessee of the stadium, we informed local agencies that UCLA will NOT grant permission should there be a request like this in the future.”

‘We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism,’ Pope Francis says.

Pope Francis said on Wednesday that he was watching the “disturbing social unrest” in the United States with “great concern.”

“We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life,” he said during his weekly general audience. He said he was praying for “the repose of the soul of George Floyd and of all those others who have lost their lives as a result of the sin of racism.”

He called for “national reconciliation and peace” and said the recent violence on U.S. streets “self-destructive and self-defeating.”

The pope’s comments came a day after Christian leaders criticized President Trump for using two religious sites in Washington for what they said were acts of political theater.

On Monday, Mr. Trump posed holding a Bible outside the historic St. John’s Church, and on Tuesday he and the first lady spent about 10 minutes inside the St. John Paul II National Shrine.

“I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles,” Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington said in a statement.

The Rev. Gini Gerbasi, an Episcopal priest who had been on the patio of St. John’s when nearby protesters were sprayed with tear gas, said he was shocked by the events. “They took what literally had been holy ground that day,” he said in an interview, “and turned it into a literal battleground.”

Front-line medical workers clap for ‘front-line’ demonstrators.

Dressed in scrubs, lab coats and protective equipment, doctors and medical personnel came out in droves in New York City to show support for the thousands who have taken to the streets in protest to call for an end to systemic racism. Some joined protesters in New York City’s Times Square, while others lined the streets outside hospitals, clapping for protesters as they walked past.

The organizers of a “Front Lines for Front Lines” group wrote on Twitter: “Every night, at 7pm, the city has clapped for us.” On Tuesday, they said, “We’re re-purposing that show of support.”

Elsewhere in the country, medical workers have handed out masks and milk to protesters in Minneapolis to ease the effects of tear gas. And in Washington, D.C., a doctor told a local news outlet that he would be riding a bike around protests in the city to offer first aid.

Reporting was contributed by Tim Arango, Emily Cochrane, Nick Corasaniti, Michael Crowley, Elizabeth Dias, Reid J. Epstein, Tess Felder, Sandra E. Garcia, Katie Glueck, Russell Goldman, Amy Julia Harris, Carl Hulse, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Elisabetta Povoledo, Alejandra Rosa, Marc Santora, Anna Schaverien, Daniel Victor and Karen Weise.


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